The GOP Needs New Followers, Not Leaders

Well, the leaders suck pretty bad too. Having just spent two weeks in Virginia, this account of a meeting of McCain/Palin supporters rings true:

I immediately realized that the McCain/Palin folks were having a little meeting….I sat down at the table next to the group just as they were starting their meeting.
As soon as the last member of their group came in, they prayed. In their prayer they begged that God “deliver the country from the evil socialists” and even prayed that “Obama find God”…
….The next person lamented that their whole office was voting for Obama. The McCain/Palin supporters called that person’s co-workers “sinners” and said that they “needed Jesus”. Damn, I’m offended again….
They were all upset that Obama had voted for the bailout. Then, one of them said, “McCain supported it too.” Then they talked about how upset they were about McCain’s proposal to buy mortgages directly from homeowners. One of the gentlemen proclaimed, “McCain sounds like a socialist. You’d think he were a Democrat”….
They talked a little more about how Obama would destroy our country with “free health care” and “gay marriages”. The feared his daughters would probably play loud rap music in the White House while world leaders were staying. They feared that Muslim would become our official religion. One of them even feared that “the Muslim language would be taught in schools.”
….They just couldn’t believe this great country would elect “that man”. They couldn’t believe God would allow it. One woman even thought that God may be punishing the country by giving us Obama.
….One of the men didn’t notice [the author’s Obama sticker] and kept talking. He said that “Obama is part of a sleeper cell and he will use our own nuclear weapons against us.” One of the women nodded her head in agreement. Finally, the woman who noticed me said in a soft voice, “there’s an Obama supporter behind us…BE QUIET”. The group suddenly got quiet.
They changed the subject for a while, but on the way out the door one of the men told me “you are a disgrace to white people if you vote for that man.”

This isn’t a movement; this is a psychotic break occurring simultaneously in millions of people. One wonders if mental illness, paranoia to be exact, is a communicable disease. And to all of the professional evangelical Democrats who claim if we just acted a little more friendly towards religion, Democrats could gain votes (although we seem to be doing just fine with black Protestant voters….), how do you respond to this:

“you are a disgrace to white people if you vote for that man.”

Do you think that has anything to do with abortion? This is tribalism wrapped in a veneer of religiosity. Someone tell me how exactly we’re supposed to reach these ‘values’ voters? Because abortion isn’t the issue; race is–it always was. They will never vote Democratic. Stop trying to appeal to their past; focus on our future.
For the Republican Party and the conservative movement, this is first a crisis of followership, not leadership. They’ve lost most professionals–doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers–the people who, 30-40 years ago, were the Republican base. All that is left are the bitter dead-enders (to steal a phrase). You simply can’t sustain a movement built around the kind of inchoate lunacy we’re seeing from the Republican base.

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9 Responses to The GOP Needs New Followers, Not Leaders

  1. Russell says:

    McCain is not George Bush. But he has chosen to run for and cater to Bush’s Base. For the sake of our nation, The Base needs to be separated from the halls of power.

  2. Sigmund says:

    Is all that remains of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Robert Ingersoll?

  3. Dunc says:

    One wonders if mental illness … is a communicable disease.

    Ask a Rwandan Tutsi.

  4. ted sivell says:

    Poor John McCain. Here’s this reasonably bright rich guy in desperate battle w/ a bright articulate harvard lawyer. Give him points for duking it out so gamely but surely his shoulders must sag at times when he looks around himself and sees the bawling mob of cretins that his policies have attracted. From what well can one draw the strength of character it would take to carry on fronting for such dolts? What if you won? It’d be like being voted president of the Delayed Learning Unit.

  5. abb3w says:

    It’s a worldview, acquired like most others, but particularly resistant to changing. There are two ways the balance of worldviews can change. One (as I understand the cog sci literature I’ve found) is exposure to alternative worldviews, and gradual increased reliance on them, facilitated by perceived benefit of using a new view over the older.
    The other is worldviews may alter demographic prospects; the people who are stuck with a particularly unhelpful but tenacious worldview will have to struggle harder to survive, as will their children. The latter leads to a Darwinian natural selective pressure; this seems wasteful to the point of being immoral… IF there is any less wasteful option possible.
    The lack of a better option, to be crass, sucks.

  6. Ktesibios says:

    In his study of authoritarianism, Bob Altemeyer found that the authoritarianism scores of his students tended to decrease as their college education progressed. He hypothesized that this was less an effect of academic learning than of the fact that in the college milieu they could no longer avoid being exposed to the Other which they had been taught to fear and had to develop new means of coping with their fears.
    This reminds me of how you treat a phobia- a graduated series of exposures to the thing the victim is afraid of so that (s)he can “unlearn” their crippling emotional reactions to the fear object.
    This actually works- I successfully cured myself of a fear that rose to the level of phobia by similar means. You would not believe how frightened I once was of driving- until I moved to L.A. to take a job and had no choice but to adapt to using a car as my primary means of transportation. After a few weeks what had started out as a heart-in-my-mouth daily trauma had become just another chore that I had the physical and emotional skills to handle.
    If these folks were to be thrown into the deep end of the pool in the same way with what they’ve been conditioned to see as the Evil Other, it would probably be painful at first, but they might just learn to get past their conditioning and become a lot more comfortable about living in the real world.

  7. Anna Lemma says:

    I think that these people are the same people that continually fall for faith healers, militia movements, conspiracy theories, and the “Satanic Panic” of the 90’s. They seem to be completely unable to rationally argue through a position. They are emotional thinkers and don’t seem to have ever learned critical thinking. We’ve all run into these types of people before.
    Trying to get a coherent reason why they believe something is impossible. My mother-in-law is like this. You can’t discuss politics with her, she simply parrots the church TV shows she watches. I think she doesn’t spend anytime thinking why she believes what she does. She simply accepts it as true. She doesn’t seem to know why it is true, or what would make it false. She accepts it because someone she trusts told her it was true. She, unsurprisingly, is a Republican.

  8. The real tragedy of this election (or blessing, depending on your POV), is that McCain’s impending defeat is being blamed on the financial crisis, whereas all us political junkies who watched the polls daily can tell you that it was the idiocy of Sarah Palin coming to light that started McCain’s crash in the polls. By the time the financial meltdown reached a level Joe the Plummer would notice, the stock crash, Katy Couric’s damage was done and McCain was well behind.
    As Mike notes, the professionals, the economic conservatives, the intellectual conservatives (yes that used to not be an oxymoron), are fleeing this madness, and Palin is the main reason. We (I used to be one of them) just can’t stomach the stupidity, intellectual dishonesty, and hypocrasy any more.
    It will be interesting to see how the GOP regroups after the thrashing they are about to receive. Personally I hope they buy the financial theory and push that know nothing fraud from Alaska on us in 2012 so we can bloody their noses again (rhetorically speaking of course).

  9. feathermaid says:

    The �Hussein� slurs will ramp up in the next few weeks. Given the opportunity, it can be helpful in communicating with members of the Christian right that:
    Barack means �baruch,� blessed
    Barack is a biblical name (Baruch ben Neriah is a revered friend of the prophet Jeremiah)
    Other presidents with biblical names are Abraham Lincoln, Zachary Taylor, Benjamin Harrison
    Barack has the same root name (in translation) as Pope Benedict
    It�s important also not to miss the boat on this to Jews � Sarah Silverman had a clip stating that Barack meant �Lightning� � that�s a different Hebrew root corresponding to Barak � nothing wrong with that, but �baruch� is the accurate root with a powerful positive association.
    See link below:

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